Elections best way out of crisis: Algeria's army chief

Students and police confront each other during an anti government protest in Algiers. — Reuters

ALGIERS — Elections are the best way to overcome Algeria's political crisis and avoid a constitutional vacuum, the country's army chief said on state television.

Lieutenant-General Ahmed Gaed Salah on Monday also urged speeding up the formation of a committee to supervise the election, without mentioning a date for the vote.

A presidential election has been scheduled for July 4, but a source said on Friday it might be postponed.

After two decades in power, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika quit last month under pressure from protesters and the army, but demonstrations have continued seeking political reforms and the removal of all officials belonging to the old guard.

Hundreds of protesters began gathering again on Friday, calling for the resignations of the interim president, Abdelkader Bensalah, and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, appointed by Bouteflika days before he stepped down.

"No to elections of shame. Remove Bensalah and Bedoui first," read one banner held up in downtown Algiers.

The Constitutional Council, which is overseeing the transition, was expected to issue a statement on the election process shortly. The deadline for would-be presidential candidates to collect and submit 60,000 signatures is May 25.

The source told Reuters the vote could be delayed until the end of the year, with names in the air to run the transition including conservative former minister Ahmed Taleb Ibrahimi and technocrat and former prime minister Ahmed Benbitour. — Agencies